Chinmaya Mission, Los Angeles, through its cultural arm, Kalanjali, hosted a special musical treat in Rameshwaram Auditorium on February 7, 2015.
The first Kalanjali concert for 2015 was an unusual entertainer titled ‘Tunes & Scales’ presented by a popular musician from the bay area, Subhapriya Srivatsan, with her professional entourage of musicians. It was announced to be a one-of-a-kind musical treat and Subha and her team surpassed the expectations of the musical connoisseurs of southern California. Dr. Shekar Viswanathan, a distinguished scientist, an Engineering Professor from the National University and a renowned patron of Indian Fine Arts Academy presented the artists and introduced the program to the eager audience of 400 as ‘an educative but entertaining musical treat’.
Subhapriya Srivatsan hails from a legendary musical family with most of its members, over generations, being Sankeertanam experts or Carnatic musicians. Subhapriya was trained by her foremost gurus, her parents, Radha Krishnan and Sangita Acharya Thiruvaiyaru Krishnan. She also benefited from tutelage from some of the legendary Carnatic musicians, Sangita Kalanidhis Dr.S Ramanathan & Palghat K.V.Narayanaswamy and also from Vairamangalam Lakshminarayanan. With more than twenty five years of performing excellence around the globe, both as a soloist and as a member of the Trio, Krishnan sisters, Subhapriya has earned her stature by her hard work and by her adaptations to varied musical exposure. The Trio (Padmapriya, Vedapriya aka Harini, and Subhapriya) has been artists of the AIR (All India Radio) and Indian Television and have been performing in Europe, Asia, UK and the USA since 1980.
Californians have also seen Subhapriya often performing with her father Thiruvaiyaru Krishnan combining the Carnatic and Hindusthani systems of Indian Music and has supported him in scores of compact discs. A resident of the bay area, she has coordinated numerous concerts and Indian music festivals, and is a core founder-volunteer of the classical music organization SVLOTUS since 2000. Being a poet, Subhapriya has choreographed, directed and performed for operas and dance dramas including her father’s opera productions, and those of the Indian scholar Padmasri Pu.Thi. Narasimhachar. Subhapriya heads a spiritual organization known as SGM (SadAcharaGyanaMandali) educating young and curious in Sanskrit, select scriptures and practices of Sanatana Dharma. She conducts music lecdems on many intricate musical topics and spiritual subjects. Despite hailing from traditional music background, Subhapriya has also learned and performed various forms of music including Jazz & Blues, Gospel Rock, Western Classical, Hindusthani Classical, Indian Films, Ghazal & Qawwali. Her passion and proficiency of several Indian & European languages, including French have helped augment her global understanding and fusion of various systems of music in her kaleidoscopic presentations.
Subhapriya began with a semi classical Hindusthani invocation and followed it by a Sanskrit composition by Swami Tejomayanand. She then briefly went on to an ex tempore presentation of how sheer musical scales transform to become melodic tunes as the prime medium to paint the emotions, be it through a classical Carnatic Music composition by a saint composer, or through a devotional bhajan in semi classical Hindusthani style or through a romantic unfold from a vintage Hindi film or vintage or modern peppy film songs, drawn from several south Indian movies. The way she wove them in to a well-knit garland, seamlessly blossoming from the mostly classical piece to a lilting Ghazal, all in 20 minutes from the get go, virtually mesmerized the audience, who exploded into thunderous applause. The audience then sat back now knowing what to expect over the next two+ hours. The multiple melodic garlands that she weaved, tune after tune, allowing no gap between, were in two dozen popular rAgams or rAgAs criss crossing the two renowned systems of the world of music. The sequencing of rAgAs and how they followed one another effortlessly showed her prowess in the grammar of Indian classical music, the vast repertoire of compositions and intense appreciation songs of different genre’ as if she herself was in a trance, as her silky voice traversed her dreamland – chasing the emotions behind the tunes. It was although the doting audience was programmed; the fans clapped almost every ten minutes, be it for a Carnatic rAgam or a popular film song or for the dozen immortal ghazals which occupied the lion’s share of the 150 minutes non-stop entertainment.
Subhapriya reiterated that her choice of the highly skilled team of professionals flown in from the bay area was especially due to their extraordinary skills of syncopation in such ex tempore presentations of an admixture of genres. She thanked them, individually, for their prowess and helping enhancement of such a ‘musical journey’ that she experienced through the program. The team included Ravi Gutala, a tabla maestro who has accompanied great stalwarts such as Pandit Jasraj and Lakshmi Shankar, and Vijayakumar Venkatesan, founder of Pallavi group, the ace electronic key board artist; Classical Carnatic violinist Lavanya Kaushik at times mimicked sArangi through her violin interludes for famous ghazals and the acclaimed flautist Kaushik Lakshminarayanan delighted the audience with his range of prowess be it a film tune or a classical rendition of a raga; Finally, the thirteen year old violinist, Keshavan Srivatsan, the wizard looking son of Subhapriya, stole the hearts of the audience who generously applauded for his raga renditions and also for his icing interludes on the ghazal cakes!
When Subhapriya concluded the program, without a warning but, with a mellifluous rendition of the ghazal ‘duniya jise kehte hain’ immortalized by Jagjit & Chitra, the adoring audience exploded with a standing ovation, albeit mumbling that the program ended too soon.